Monday, February 10, 2014

Learning To Like The Stuck Places

 "Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it." ~ Bill Cosby

Hey there my bloggy friends! I'm back! Okay, I know, you're probably wondering what is going on with me posting again so soon. Well, I'm just full of stuff to write lately. Okay, no wise cracks about me definitely being full of something. Haha! On to the message!

Take a look at the above picture. Do you ever feel like that? Do you ever feel stuck? Do you ever feel like you're just not getting ahead in this thing called life? Have you ever felt like giving up because you feel like you're spinning your wheels, with no noticeable progress, and you don't know how to get out? Oh my friend, I have been there so many times. In fact, I am there right now. I've been in this place for a few years now. Feeling stuck. Knowing full well that I can't go back, but not sure how to go forward either. How do I get out of here? How long will I be in this place? Why do I have to be here in the first place? What have I done wrong? God, have You forgotten me?

Being in a stuck place is not easy. In fact, it can be very difficult and lonely. I am one of those people who like to have some sense of direction in my life. When things are unsure and unsettled, it stresses me out. I don't like feeling as if I'm going absolutely nowhere. I've realized just recently, after many tears and lots of fussing and fighting with God for the last few years, that there are valuable lessons to be learned in the stuck places we go through.

I used to feel like such a failure when I was in a stuck place. I'm supposed to be steadily moving forward, right? If I was a "good Christian" I wouldn't be stuck, right? Christians don't get stuck, do they? Something must be wrong with me if I'm stuck, right? Wrong!!! Everyone comes to a stuck place at some point in their life, no matter who they are. There is no shame in being stuck. The only shame would be from beating yourself up for it.

I've learned some pretty cool things while being in the stuck places. We are all on a journey through this life. Everything we go through is part of that journey, which includes the stuck places. The things we learn in those places help to shape us into the people we were meant to be. We may not always see right away how those things are shaping us, but they truly are. (Hindsight is 20/20.)

When I think of someone being in some really tough stuck places, I think of Joseph. Let's take a closer look at some of his stuck places.

1.) At seventeen, Joseph was thrown into a pit, by his own brothers.
2.) His brothers then decided to sell him, instead of killing him, to some traveling merchants who
     were on their way to Egypt. (And I thought my family had issues!)
3.) His brothers lied to their father and told him that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal.
4.) After the traveling merchants arrived in Egypt, they sold Joseph to a man named Potipher,
     who was a high-ranking official for Pharoah, where he became a slave in his house.
     (It is estimated that Joseph served as a slave there for eleven years.)
5.) Joseph was falsely accused of trying to take advantage of his bosses wife after she made a
     move on him, but he told her no. She got ticked off and accused him of trying to rape her.
     He was then thrown into prison. (It is estimated that he spent at least two years in prison.)

Wow! Talk about some major stuck places, Joseph had them in spades. The thing is, God already knew about every one of those stuck places that Joseph would go through. He was not surptrised by any of them. He still had a plan to get Joseph to where he needed him to be, to carry out the plan He had for his life, even though it may not have appeared that way. (You can read the whole story of Joseph in more detail, and how God used those stuck places to bring Joseph to a place of being the second most powerful man in Egypt in Genesis 37-50.)

It took me a while to understand that being in a stuck place is not necessarily a bad thing. We don't usually see it as a good thing, and it doesn't usually feel good, but the lessons learned and the growth that takes place there is life changing. I have realized that it's okay to allow myself to feel the whole range of emotions I've been feeling in this stuck place. There's no right or wrong way to feel. Rather than stuffing my feelings down trying to act like I am fine, which never made anything better anyway, I have given myself permission to feel the way I feel. Instead of stressing out about being stuck, I have tried to sort through all the painful things that brought me to this place. How can we expect to heal and move forward out of the stuck places, if we won't allow ourselves to truly look at the wounds we have and go through the whole healing process. Pretending we are okay will not get our feet on the solid ground we need to move forward.

My daughter, Brittany, who is almost twenty-two, recently shared some things with me about the growth she has seen in me over the last few years. I was really down and discouraged about still being in this stuck place, wondering what good had come from any of the painful things we had been through and beating myself up because I wasn't as far along as I had hoped for. In fact, I felt like I was so far away from where I wanted to be that I wondered if I would ever get to the place I wanted to be. I was so encouraged by what she said that I would like to share it with you...."I think you've learned a great deal about self-esteem, and gained quite a lot of it. You've become more transparent with others (outside of our family, that is) and I think that's a really good thing. You've put boundaries in place in your life that maybe wouldn't have happened before. You are "kicking your people-pleasing mentality to the curb," as you so recently put it. You've learned to be cautious in a healthy way about who you allow into your life, because even if someone appears a certain way in how they present themselves, that doesn't mean that's who they truly are. You've learned to stand up for yourself and not allow other people to treat you like sh#@. And I think you've grown a lot in the area of accepting yourself and where you're at in your life and being okay with that. Those are good things!" Thank you, my sweet daughter, for your encouraging words! You are such a great cheerleader! I love you!
God gave each of us a different road to travel. And yes, I do believe God even allows us to get in those stuck places to mold us and shape us for the next chapter in our journey. I believe the stuck places are all part of His plan for us. Being molded, shaped, and pruned isn't easy. In fact, it hurts like heck sometimes, but in the end, it will all be worth it. We will be even more beautiful and His love will shine even more brightly in our lives.

I am taking things one day at a time through this journey of stuckness. ( I don't think that's really a word.)  I don't have it all together by any means, and I've still got a long ways to go, but I'm not so discouraged by being here in this place anymore.

If you currently find yourself in one of those stuck places, please know you are not alone. There are many traveling this path alongside us. This stuck place is not your final destination. This is only a chapter. It's only temporary. It's not the end of the road. There are far better things ahead. It may not feel comfortable, and it may seem like it's taking forever, but please know there are many valuable lessons to be learned in the land of being stuck. You will be okay, my dear friend. I just know it.
Until next time my friend, be blessed, right in the middle of your stuck place!

“Your journey has molded you for your greater good, and it was exactly what it needed to be. Don't think you've lost time. There is no short-cutting to life. It took each and every situation you have encountered to bring you to the now. And now is right on time.”
― Asha Tyson

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